Sean Gardner’s three-point play with eight seconds left capped an Arkansas State second-half comeback and provided the winning points as the Red Wolves rallied for a 71-69 men’s college basketball win over the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in their Saturday night Sun Belt Conference contest in Jonesboro, Arkansas.
The Red Wolves (8-7, 4-0), winning their fifth straight, trailed by 13 points with 12:41 when Shawn Long’s three-point play gave the Ragin’ Cajuns a 51-38 lead. That capped a 17-0 run by the Cajuns to start the second half.
Arkansas State cut into the margin over the next eight minutes and the game was tied three times in the final 3:41 before Long’s first of two free throws with 34 seconds left gave UL-Lafayette a 69-68 lead.
Devin Carter, who had 16 of his team-leading 25 points in the second half, missed two free throws with 14 seconds left, but Frederic Dure came up with an offensive rebound and found Gardner, who drove for a short jumper and was fouled by Long before hitting the free throw.
“We didn’t get the bounce we needed at the end,” Cajuns coach Bob Marlin said. “We played really good the start of the second half, but we needed to rebound the free throw at the end.”
Long, who had his 61st career double-double with 25 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, had a head-on 3-pointer bounce off the back iron at the final horn as the Cajuns (5-8, 1-3) fell to 0-8 on the road this season.
“I told the guys in the time out that we were going to hit a 3 at the end to win it,” Marlin said. “Shawn got a good look, it just didn’t go down.”
ASU led 38-31 on Donte Thomas’ three-point play five seconds before halftime, but Hayward Register hit a 3-pointer at the halftime horn to cut the margin to four. UL-Lafayette then scored the first 17 points of the second half as ASU missed its first 15 shots of the half.
Long, who had nine points in that run, had a dunk with 17:50 left to give the Cajuns a 39-38 lead.
In addition to Carter, Thomas had 20 points and Gardner 13 for the Red Wolves, who are tied for the Sun Belt lead. Long was the Cajuns’ only double-digit scorer, with Jonathan Stove and Devonta Walker each getting nine points.
Long became the Sun Belt’s career rebounding leader in the game’s first four minutes, having entered the game needing three boards to pass the 1,183 total of South Alabama’s Augustine Rubit (2010-14).
UL-Lafayette led by as many as five points four times in the first half before ASU hit eight free throws in the final four minutes before halftime. The Cajuns hit only two of their last eight shots of the half before Register’s trey at the horn, and also had nine turnovers in the first half.